Merlin Series 5 Review “The Disir” — In Which Arthur Has Been Weighed, Measured and Found Wanting

In this week’s Merlin, Arthur had to face the Court of ‘The Disir’, three Macbeth-like witches who pass on a judgement supposedly cast by the triple goddess, the figurehead of the Old Religion. To be a truly fair king, and to ensure the survival of Camelot, Arthur must accept the Old Religion back into his kingdom.

His hand is being forced somewhat by Mordred, or more specifically an injured Mordred, who only the Disir can save. If Arthur agrees to allow magic back into Camelot, Mordred will presumably live. If Arthur rejects magic, Mordred will presumably die.

Counting on the latter being true, Merlin does something quite shocking. At the perfect moment for a magic reveal, when Arthur is actively seeking Merlin’s thoughts on whether or not he should allow magic back into Camelot, Merlin instead announces that magic has no place in Camelot. Merlin assumes that the Disir will refuse to save Mordred because of this decision, thereby ending the future threat to Arthur’s life, but instead they return to Camelot to find Mordred alive and well…

Dear readers, there are times when I watch Merlin and despair. There have been many perfect moments for a magic reveal over the past couple series, but this was the most perfect. All Merlin had to do was say three little words: ‘I have magic’.

The reason for Merlin not advising Arthur to accept the Old Religion into Camelot (sidenote: yay for Merlin getting to advise again) was that Mordred would die, which is my biggest issue with this episode. The Disir said that the future of Camelot rests on whether or not the Old Religion is accepted back, and Merlin was willing to risk Camelot to save Arthur from a single threat: Mordred. But right now Mordred isn’t even a threat.

In fact, it would be laughably easy for Merlin to kill Mordred himself right now. When the knights were hazing Mordred, or in training practise, Merlin could have caused Mordred to die in ‘an accident’. How hard would it be for him to trip Mordred up, break his neck and blame it on the fall? Or have him fall onto a weapon? There are so many ways in which Merlin could kill Mordred himself and not risk Camelot.

I don’t want to hate on Merlin because I usually adore him, but it’s frustrating. Not getting a magic reveal is one thing — not getting a reveal because Merlin apparently doesn’t want to do the dirty work and get Mordred out of the picture himself is another thing entirely. It completely overshadowed what was otherwise a really good episode for me. I really wish it hadn’t.

A few other things this week:

– Arthur. I love Arthur’s growth, and though he seemed to slide backward a bit with his brief show of arrogance, he did make up for it in spades in the rest of the episode. He’s really growing as a king; I was hoping that he would agree to bring the Old Religion back against Merlin’s advise, just to shake things up a bit. Oh, well.
– Gwaine. Poor Gwaine, he of the multiple head injuries. Sooner or later, he’s just going to be a drooling mess in Gauis’ chambers. Someone get that boy a helmet, stat!
– The hazing. The knights and Arthur hazing Mordred was hilarious. Poor boy.

What did you think of ‘The Disir’, dear reader? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

  • Melissa Davis

    I agree with everything you said.  It’s been almost 10 years and outcome of this discussion with Merlin’s wisdom should have happened maybe in series 3.   I am nothing but dissapointed with the how things are going this season.  My patience is at it’s end.  Were is the’s a step forward and 4 steps back! 

    I know Mordred is a threat but Merlin is being childish and making the wrong decisions.  Yes, he’s trying to heed the Great Dragon but there’s easier ways to defeat Mordred.   Arthur and his knights came across as so arrogant that it was almost cartoonish.  The acting in that last scene was wonderful and to hear Merlin’s words were just sooo disappointing.  I think the writers have done a disservice to long time fans.   Too much continuity issues this season, use of b-roll etc.   It’s as if this was some leftover materials from the past seasons and they decided to use a filler episode to level set everyone understanding on how magic is viewed in Camelot.  Is it a budgeting issue?  And the lack of magic from Merlin is just sinful. 

    Just wrong and a waste for the actors.

  • Ha Da

    I mainly agree with you but you again forgot to review Colin Morgan’s fantastic acting in this episode again… He truly sells the emotions of his complex Merlin so excellently! His eyes and face were saying something so more heavy and painful than the words he uttered! Colin Morgan is really the greatest actor! So much said with his amazing eyes & acting!

  • Blue Toasters In The Sky

    I’m so annoyed with this episode and I agree with what you said. I think Merlin’s decision was incredibly poor and if there going to be a 6th season and no reveal in this one… I might just drop the show. They’ve had several perfect moments for a reveal this season and they’ve shot them to pieces. And it’s really starting to annoy. The amount of time alone that has gone by in the show is just ridiculous! Ten years of deceit isn’t something that people can recover from in a snap and we’d need ten more bloody years just for them to get over it. 

  • genuine

    I loved so
    much the scene where Merlin’s ambivalent emotion was apparent. The scene was so
    moving, for Merlin gave up with great sadness and agony not only the world with
    freedom of using magic which he had been dreaming of for a long time, but also
    his desire to prove Arthur that magic can be used for good and tell him the
    truth of his gift, all for the sake of Arthur’s life. Colin Morgan’s acting was
    just amazing.

    The groundwork that makes his
    sadness so appealing is developed throughout the whole episode. In the
    beginning, he and Mordred has a short conversation about magic. In that, he
    shows his firm and solid dream of the kingdom where they live in freedom and
    magic can blossom. Also, his loneliness which comes from the fact that he is a secretly
    magician is shown when he talks about his feelings of the place in the woods.
    He can feel all these fascinating magic things as he describes it – “as if the
    world is vibrating, as if everything is much more than itself”, and he looks at
    Arthur in expectation of certain approval. However, he cannot have the same
    feelings. The fact that Arthur who is the most precious person for Merlin can
    never understand him gives him certain disappointment in his look in the next

    I don’t like
    the fact that Merlin does not judge things anymore by his own heart but the
    fate told by others, because he became so blind with his devotion and love for
    Arthur. Merlin with his mind engrossed in Arthur’s fate, so unlike himself, does not show compassion for Mordred. Mordred will somehow become a traitor for sure, but right now he is
    devoted to Arthur to the extent of risking his own life for him. But Merlin’s anxiety and
    the dilemma caused by the return of Mordred’s life in the end is so effective
    (rather scary) that I can hardly tell what could have been done instead, if I
    were to make change.

  • Hhenshall25

    I loved this weeks episode. Until the end. What the heck? Merlin made a bad decision. We can only hope he kills Mordred. Otherwise I fear it is the end of this awesome TV show.

  • Aladinelrayes

    I think merlin should only follow the dream of uniting albian but still keep a close eye on mordrid because mordrid probably isn’t bad but what merlin saw (mordrid killing arthur) will make merlin try to kill mordrid but fail which turns mordrid against him then kills arthur. This happened with morgana. He saw in the crystal that she would kill uther and merlin knocked her out which led to her overhearing that she’s uthers daughter which meant she had a right to the throne.tjen she tried killing uther. I hope merlin has learnt from his mistakes!

  • Aladinelrayes

    I think merlin should only follow the dream of uniting albian but still keep a close eye on mordrid because mordrid probably isn’t bad but what merlin saw (mordrid killing arthur) will make merlin try to kill mordrid but fail which turns mordrid against him then kills arthur. This happened with morgana. He saw in the crystal that she would kill uther and merlin knocked her out which led to her overhearing that she’s uthers daughter which meant she had a right to the throne.tjen she tried killing uther. I hope merlin has learnt from his mistakes!

  • Anonymous

    I thought it was a brilliant episode but really incredibly painful to watch.  I loved the mood of the whole story – dark, moody and gloomy. Colin was superb in THAT scene, but I do wonder what on earth the writers are thinking about.   I am also a friend of the magic reveal and am sick to death (excuse me) that the writers are finding any excuse under the sun to avoid it.   How can they have Merlin to advise Arthur AGAINST magic.  It hurt. It still hurts.
    I cannot even contemplate that a reveal might NOT happen in season 5. It must.  It is too ridiuclous now, that Arthurs still does not know!  I can all but hope that the writers will have seen sense and let it happen, SOON!!

  • Sangita

    I totally agree with you ! I waited for 5 episode to say this (because I thought it will get better) but after the last episode I can definitely say Merlin is loosing it’s charm in this season. Like you I can’t say I hate Merlin but definitely I hate this season !. They are making the main character ‘Merlin’ look like a fool in this season 🙁 . All he is doing is obsessing with Mordred ! Colin Morgan is a very good actor he doesn’t deserve this !!! Nothing in this season is like the Merlin we saw . I can’t say what exactly it is but may be they want to make Merlin in GOT style or something or may be they are giving too much credit to Mordred. This is not the serial I loved so far 🙁

  • Deepspace64

    I totally agree. What a moment of shock when after nearly bursting into tears Merlin just did this totally wrong and annoying thing. Just to get the series into a next season 6. Endless repetition of hope and disappointment. It was the reason that I have now started to sell my Merlin DVD boxes. I will still watch Merlin but no longer collect because I would get kind of a space problem when finally getting to season 99.

    • Hanhensh

      I think its ridiculous that people are selling their DVDs just because they are not revealing Merlin had magic. If you ask me a TRUE Merlin fan loves it no matter what. The producers have obviously seen how popular Merlin is, and have decided to get another season or two out it (I hope). I say Merlin is as good as ever

  • MerlinFanette

    Seriously, I’m disappointed with Series 5 – and getting bored. Maintaining Merlin’s ‘secret’ is just getting dull and beginning to make him look downright stupid, to me, while they’re trying to make the series look far more grim and dark.

    And what the heck have they done to Gaius’ hair? What were they thinking?

    • Hanhensh

      I agree with Gius’s hair. I mean what?

  • Hanhensh

    I am enjoying Merlin so far. The review page for episode 6 is rubbish, so im using this one. Episode 6 was wonderful. Poor Gwen. 🙁 I think Morgana has enchanted her. She has to have done. I mean Gwen cant turn on Arthur. What? And Elyan died. He died. HE DIED. Aaaah. I’m so sad. I cried loads. :'( I did find a few things convenient. Like the horse. And tracks and a few other things like that. But it was still fantastic